Storm Postmortem: Newton’s record-setting soaker

It may not have brought significant flooding problems, but Tropical Storm Newton delivered what Odile didn’t two years ago.

Remnant tropical moisture from Newton helped set a new Tucson rainfall record for September 7th. Officially, 1.25″ rain fell at Tucson International Airport. The fine folks at NWS Tucson are quick to point out that this is the 22nd wettest September day on record. It also gets us near the September average rainfall of 1.29″.

Here’s how the rest of Metro Tucson fared, as the vast majority of rain gauges verified our 1-3″ prediction. Of note is the mountains, which were absolutely drenched. Thankfully, the rains were rather slow & steady, thus the lack of major flooding. Many locations in Santa Cruz & southwestern Cochise County received 2-5″ of rain. Click here for a complete list of rainfall totals, compiled by NWS Tucson.

top5newtonwinds

Wind gusts were strong in the mountains, as shown by the top 5 list above. The 68 MPH recorded gust in the Santa Rita Mountains occurred at Mt. Hopkins. This site is notorious for its extremely strong winds when they prevail out of the east. Essentially, air funnels through the topography, adding several MPH to gusts.

11 AM Newton Advisory
11 AM Newton Advisory

Did Newton become Arizona’s 6th recorded tropical storm? While the National Hurricane Center’s 11 AM advisory kept Newton at tropical storm levels, the 2 PM update (and final advisory) weakened it to a post-tropical storm. There is a lot of debate on social media whether Newton could have been a tropical storm a few miles past the International Border. However, there is a lack of observed data to back that claim.

Perhaps post-analysis after the season could change this, but the NHC’s 2 PM discussion seemed to put the nail in the coffin. In my opinion, post-analysis may determine that Newton was actually post-tropical near Caborca, Sonora. Regardless of labels, Newton provided an extremely beneficial rainfall as we head toward Fall.

Finally, some great photos from our News 4 Tucson viewers. A huge thank you to them & our WxNet watchers for being an extra set of eyes during this rare tropical event in the desert!

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